How Long Do Cables Last? 5 Signs Your Electrical Cable May Be Failing
Electric cables are the lifeblood of every modern home.
But, like everything else, an electrical cable degrades and wears away through age. An electric cable’s lifespan is about 50-70 years, which means any cables older than 1970 are at the end of their span.
Fortunately, there are plenty of indicators that a cable is wearing out. Here’s a useful list of signs that an electrical cable may be failing.
1. Damaged Cables
This may sound like an obvious one, but signs of damage are one of the most overlooked symptoms of a faulty and failing electrical cable.
After all, most people don’t think too much of what appears to be minor damage to electric cables. But this can be a costly mistake. Even for an electrical cable that is otherwise in good shape, it’s best not to ignore even the most minor signs of damage.
2. Burning Odors
Unusual smells and burning orders could be another indication of a failing electrical cable.
Never ignore a burning smell or signs of smoke. This is one of the most common signs that an electrical cable is nearing the end of its life. Obviously, any signs of fire or a smoking cable should be investigated and fixed right away. Damaged electrical cables can be very dangerous, leading to electrical fires if not fixed.
3. Flickering Lights
It’s best to fix a failing electrical cable before it gets to the burning stage.
So if you notice flickering or dimming lights, this could be an indication of old electric cables that are no longer functioning properly. To work at full brightness, a home lighting fixture only needs a small amount of power. Flickering or dimming lights suggests that there could be a failing electrical cable.
For a situation like this, it’s a good idea to learn about electrical cable testing so you know how to test an electrical cable for any damage.
4. Discolored Outlets
If you notice any strange colors around electrical outlets in your home, it could be a sign that your electric cables are failing.
Unusual colors or signs of scorching indicate an outlet that is being overheated. This can even include signs of melting to the outlet faceplate itself.
Electrical cables tend to get hot, and this is natural and no cause for worry. However, excessive heating, to the point of scorching and melting outlet plates, could be a sign of cables that are dangerously near the end of their life.
5. Strange Noises
This is one that many people overlook.
Don’t ignore strange sounds issued from outlets or electrical cables. Buzzing sounds, especially, may be an indicator of a failing electrical cable. After all, a cable that is functioning properly shouldn’t be audible in any way.
But a faulty or damaged cable can lead to an impeded or jumping current, producing the aforementioned buzzing sound. This may seem insignificant to start with, but these small issues can lead to larger problems later on. It’s best to test a buzzing electrical cable for any signs of further damage.
Check an Electrical Cable for Damage
The bottom line is this: there are often many indicators that an electrical cable is damaged or near the end of its lifespan.
If you see or experience any of the above issues, it’s best to have your cables tested and repaired. Or, if your home’s wiring is particularly old, it might be wisest to have it replaced altogether.
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